Does your office create an inspiring first impression for potential new employees? Prospective employees will be more excited about joining your company if you have an attractive workspace. But what about your current employees? With forty hours (or more) of our week spent in the office, the design of our working environments plays a huge role in job satisfaction and employee retention.
To help your organization recruit and retain top talent, we're looking at four office design elements that can help you master that first impression, and create a positive working environment to maintain satisfaction, long after the first impression fades.
1) Maximize Natural Light
A bright, well-lit office space will be much more appealing than the same space if it's dark and dimly lit. As well as creating a positive first impression, natural light also provides long-term health benefits for employees, which can help with employee retention.
Sunlight has a meaningful impact on health and wellness: People who work in offices with windows receive 173% more beneficial white light during work hours and sleep an average of 46 minutes more every night.
There are various design choices that can maximize the levels of natural light in an office space, such as replacing light-blocking opaque dividers with transparent or translucent glass dividers. You may also want to consider installing a daylighting system, or adopting an open-concept office layout to ensure that natural light extends as far into the office space as possible.
2) Provide Individual Work Spaces
While big, shared bench desks within sprawling open-plan offices are beloved for providing flexibility and encouraging collaboration and communication, research has shown that having a high proportion of individual and assigned work spaces boosts employee engagement and retention.
This is because having a designated workplace enables employees to develop a sense of belonging in the office as they have a space to call their own - both physically and psychologically.
3) Create a Variety of Work Spaces to Facilitate Different Working Styles
Not everyone works in the same way, so taking a one-size-fits-all approach to your office design can dramatically hinder employee productivity and their happiness in the workplace. While extroverted workers may thrive in an open-plan office, introverted workers may find it a more challenging environment to focus and work productively in.
Therefore it's important to create a variety of different work spaces, to facilitate different working styles and practices. For example, if your main work space is an open-plan area to encourage collaboration and communication, it's worth adding a selection of closed, private work spaces such as pods or booths for individual working, as well as closed meeting rooms for group use, so teams can run extended meetings without disturbing the rest of their colleagues.
Catering for different work styles and preferences will be a big help for improving retention, by enabling employees to shape their work day to fit their needs, ensuring they are comfortable in their workplace.
4) Minimize Disruptive Noise
Noise levels are one of the leading causes of workplace complaints. The American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends that offices have a noise range between 49 and 58 dBA, to minimize interference with conversations or distract workers. But workers themselves prefer lower noise levels – not exceeding 52 dBA. (source)
In open offices, noise levels are a particularly big problem, with fewer walls or barriers to block sound, and more people sharing a space. The design and layout of your office can help with this:
- Office zones can separate the main, heads-down work space from collaborative work spaces and breakout areas, and from communal, social spaces like kitchens and dining areas. This will naturally keep the heads-down work space at a lower noise level, by encouraging workers to move elsewhere for their conversations.
- Closed meeting rooms and breakout spaces can help reduce noise in the main work space by taking meetings elsewhere within the office space.
- Making design choices to reduce footsteps and other structure-borne sound - such as choosing cushion-backed carpet over hard surface flooring, and using more upholstered furniture instead of hard benches to reduce reverberation.
High levels of ambient noise have been linked to an increase in stress levels, so keeping noise levels low can help improve employee retention, and create a more pleasant working environment.